Skip to content

Music Box


This is one of several music boxes that the Eameses kept at their office, where it served as a reminder of the longer history of automation and mechanization in a period when computers were rapidly transforming humans’ relationships with machines. These kinds of musical devices were invented in the late 19th century and became popular entertainment in both private and public settings. They were produced at many scales, and large, lacquered music boxes like this one would have been showpieces wherever they were displayed. The machines automatically produced music by use of a revolving disk or cylinder that passed through a tuned metal comb. Some examples, like this one, also incorporated a set of bells. Charles and Ray appreciated music not only for the joy it sparked in listeners, but also for the way the underlying logic of music encouraged composers to work like designers, “arranging and rearranging elements of a problem” in order to iterate on possible solutions.

  • Medium:Wood, metal, lacquer
  • Dimensions:Box: 26 1/4 x 27 1/4 x 16 3/4 in. (66.7 x 69.2 x 42.5 cm)Box with Handle: 26 1/4 x 31 x 16 3/4 in. (66.7 x 78.7 x 42.5 cm)
  • Item:2019.2.371